Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Smart Car's coming! Yay! Oh, it's big? Boo!

At first the news seemed exciting - Mercedes' Smart Car, an already cultishly popular vehicle in Europe, is coming to America. I saw Smart Cars all over the place during my past trips to Germany - in fact, my host in Munich owned one, and I got to ride all over that city in it. They are stylistically cute like a Volkswagen Beetle (new edition), get 60 miles per gallon, and are almost four feet shorter than even a Mini Cooper, perfect for those of us in large urban centers. Chicagoans, could you imagine hundreds of these cute, tiny little cars beeping around our streets? We've already got the public train system that increasingly looks more and more European, and the international culture of a European city; Smart Cars and Saturn stores are all that's left.

But alas, Mercedes isn't releasing that car here - they're only offering a new "Smart SUV" instead, bloated and almost the exact same size as a Honda CR-V. Boo! Your sales goal is only less than 1 percent of total American car sales - why not go with the more experimental one, that could be of great benefit to those in cities, as well as single commuters? Anyway, Fast Company has two business writers arguing the pros and cons, which is pretty interesting reading.